John Alejandro Ricaurte Cartagena, historian at the University of Antioquia, Master’s in the History of Europe and the Atlantic World from the University of the Basque Country, PhD in international studies at the University of the Basque Country. He has worked in the areas of immigration and independence movements. He has published three volumes of the Basques in Antioquia Collection. Author of the book ‘La dimensión internacional en la guerra de Independencia de Colombia’.
This entry of the series we’re publishing about the bicentennial of the independence of the New World republics is dedicated to the role the Basque played in the independence process of New Granada, from 1810-1830. To discuss this chapter in Basque history, we asked John Alejandro Ricaurte Cartagena, a Basque-descendant we’ve mentioned before, to collaborate, as he is one of the main leaders at the Center for Basque Studies of Antioquia (CEVA) and a member of the Basque Center of Antioquia.
The author has prepared a detailed, thorough article which not only analyzes the role of these Basques, but also situates us in the historical context, explaining the different viewpoints and sensibilities of this community, and discussing the importance of the connections between the Basque Country and New Granada in the flow of Enlightenment ideas that fanned the flames of independence in the New World republics.
In this process of Enlightenment influences transfer between Europe and the Americas, we’re reminded of the key role played by the Guizpucoan Company of Caracas, which was discussed in our previous article on Venezuela by Javier Amezaga, the son of Vicente Amezaga, one of the scholars of the history of New Granada named by Ricaurte. The company was also mentioned in an article on the role of the Basques in the independence of the United States by Robert P. Clark.
Ricaurte reminds us of the position of those Basques when dealing with independence was not homogeneous, but rather the consequence of the decisions of individuals or of interest groups. We can imagine that this is something that was quite generalized throughout all the New World colonies, where there was no positioning either in favor of independence nor in support of continuing to belong to the Crown of Spain.
It also raises the question about whether these Basque descendants, whose families had already been in the Americas for several generations, would have a strong feeling of belonging to the Basque Community.
He sets out Simón Bolívar (who, logically, we’ve spoken of on many occasions) as an example, as he is perhaps one of the most paradigmatic of those of Basque origin who participated in independence processes. His family had been living in the Americas for generations, and Ricaurte wonders if there were any feeling of belonging to the Basque Community.
Our individual and in no way “scientific” opinion is that it was likely that a significant part of those Basque descendants did have that perception and did feel united to that community. The reasons why we believe this are based on the specific characteristics of the Basque community in the Americas.
Firstly, they were a small community in relation to the others that came from the Peninsula, which forced them to create support groups, which the author highlights. These groups, many of which were founded as brotherhoods and guilds under the protection of Our Lady of Aranzazu, created a collaboration network that stretched the length and breadth of the New World colonies. This undoubtedly helped them feel like they belonged or were part of a community.
Moreover, and we believe this is key, a significant part of the Basques who reached the Americas held the title of hidalgo. This title, the lowest on the ranking of nobility, guaranteed them a series of rights in a society that the average commoner did not have. That’s why they demanded and maintained those titles they had for the mere fact that they were Basques. These titles, moreover, opened many doors in the civil service and in the army.
But noble as they were, they were still farmers, merchants, ironsmiths, and fishermen. Unlike in the rest of the Peninsula, where the nobility was used to living off the profits of the land and their workers, Basque nobles were used to doing business and phyiscal labor.
All this gave them the opportunity, the will, and the knowledge to create, as members of this national community, an excellent level of development in the Colony. This development, when notably successful, would oftentimes combine with a life project that would lead them to stay in the Americas.
It would seem most logical to us that these “old Basque families” might have more easily lost their feeling of belonging after the republican period, when those support groups were dissolved (by will or by force), and the benefits of belonging to the nobility began to disappear.
But there is no doubt that the author has posited an interesting line of research: Is that perception many of us have today that they felt “Basque” real, or just the consequence of our current views as Basques?
The Basques during the independence of the Viceroyalty of New Granada, 1810–1830
John Alejandro Ricaurte Cartagena, historian
During the reign of the monarchies of Austria and Bourbon, the Basques were one of the main migrant groups to converge in the Americas, alongside other individuals who came from different kingdoms and counties in Spain, and other Europeans from the vast Empire that, at different times, encompassed or had family pacts with modern-day Portugal, France, Austria, the Netherlands, and Italy.
Many of these individuals participated in public, religious, and economic institutions, and populated the towns, cities, villages, and settlements founded in the Americas in the time of Spanish domination, leaving indelible marks of their presence. This isone of the reasons why, when the time came to break with the mother country, Basque surnames started to come up as the protagonists up and down the continents, finding both quantitative (numeric) and qualitative (importance) transcendence.
En el norte de Suramérica, en concreto en el virreinato de la Nueva Granada, incluyendo la Capitanía de Venezuela y la Audiencia de Quito, el proceso de Independencia fue más cambiante, diverso y atomizado. En su primera etapa republicana produjo una gran eclosión de soberanías, en la que 11 provincias se situaron en favor de la Regencia (emisaria de Fernando VII) y otras 11 en favor de la autonomía de sus juntas de gobierno. In both groups, regents and autonomists, Basques can be found playing key roles. Francisco de Abrisqueta had this to say about those who took sides to defend the first attempts and republics and constitutions:
The surnames transplanted from the Basque Country appear in all types of organizations, committees, city governments, and military commandoes for the independence campaigns. … In the continental military campaigns, numerous Basque surnames surround the Liberator Bolívar, and citing them would take an eternity. Among those which stand out are: the Ansoategui family, Baraya, Ricaurte, Villavicencio-Barástegui, D’Elhuyar, Sabarain, Urdaneta, along with these heroines: Policarpa Salabarrieta, Eugenia Arrázola, María Josefa Esguerra, Rosa Zárate, and the New World Patriot from the Upar Valley, María Concepción Loperena Ustaris. Among those who were shot, strangled, arquebused, or hanged by Morillo, Sámano, and other royalist leaders were 43 martyrs for the freedom of Greater Colombia with Basque surnames. In the greater war, in the independence army, we can find Basques and the sons of first-generation Basques, such as the Campo Larrahondo and Dorronsoro families. In the Battle of Boyacá Bridge, three names stand out; alongside Santander, there is a Bolívar and an Anzoátegui .
So, one only needs to look at the lists of the dead in battle, or those who stood out in battle, were promoted in military rank, or who took part in the most important events in the war to find individuals who would be seen as such. Now, the fact of attributing traits, qualities, beliefs, or values to these individuals by the mere fact of bearing a surname, in our case a Basque one,, is a matter of debate. This would be ignoring the processes of cultural, ethnic, and linguistic mixing experienced in the Spanish Americas over three centuries.
An example of the above, the most important and at the same time controversial one, is that of Simón Bolívar, the main architect of the Colombian-Venezuelan Independence, whom history has taken as Basque, even though seven generations—almost 200 years—separate him from his origins . Despite the obvious nature of the Liberator’s ethnic mix, many intellectuals, especially Basques, insisted on proving this ancestry, assigning him, in addition to his paternal surname Bolívar, a series of attributes that indicated his unequivocal Basqueness. This is observed in dozens of books, articles, newspapers, and genealogical bulletins, among others, that have been produced about him over two centuries.
It is also necessary to point out that there are some passages in his life that link him to his Basque past: the mention in his letters about the Basques, the contact with distinguished people of this origin (Yarza and Ustariz), his trip to Biscay, and in particular his stay in Bilbao. However, it is difficult to elucidate if Bolívar had correspondence or affiliation with everything Basque, as the processes of identity construction are personal, they are formed and reinforced from the social ties with the community of origin, and the feelings of belonging to or exclusion from other groups (the alterity process).
Other founding fathers or great men of the Independence movement belonged to more recent Basque lineages—sons or grandsons—so it is more feasible to think about the existence and preservation of their differential cultural values, be they regional or national, as this has always existed among the Basque migrant communities in America.However, it is curious that Bolívar’s Basqueness has been the most commented, publicized, named, and mythologized
It is possible that this identity character was created after Independence, given his resounding Basque surname, mention of his Basqueness and stay in Biscay, but the truth is that many intellectuals, especially Basques, bestowed these attributes to Bolívar, and as Pelay indicates, they found in him a “sign of ‘Basquist’ connection”.
The examples on this topic are not few, because the affections towards the figure of him were manifested especially in the twentieth century, through a series of intellectuals who disseminated and highlighted the “Basqueness” of the Liberator. Says Pelay:
It can be said that whenever the Basques have delved into Bolívar, it has been to exalt him. And I would add that they have done so with the passion of compatriots. And this is how it has been, at different times—and, of course, in very different circumstances—from Trueba to Lendakari Aguirre, including José María Salaverría, Segundo Ispizua, Alejandro Sota, Mourlane Michelena, Teófilo Guiard, Vicente de Amézaga, Llano Gorostiza, Martín Ugalde, Mariano Estornés, Arantzazu Amézaga, Sancho de Beurko, and an endless number of others, have always considered him their own hero .
In the same way, in the American continents, it was the exiled Basque intellectuals who spread the thesis of Bolívar’s Basque ties. In addition, they took the relationship further, by highlighting the participation of their countrymen in the different emancipatory processes in South America. Its main promoters include writers and politicians such as Jesús de Galíndez, based in the Dominican Republic and the United States; historian Vicente Amezaga, who migrated to Uruguay and Venezuela; and Francisco de Abrisqueta, who settled in Colombia.
Galíndez was a pioneer in rescuing the Liberator for the Basques in exile. His best-known writing is ‘El panamericanismo de Bolívar’, where he expresses, very well, Bolivarian and Pan-American thought . Amezaga did the same in Venezuela, who, in addition to writing an extensive work on the Liberator, highlighted the participation of the Basques at different moments in the history of this country, including Independence . On the other hand, Abrisqueta went so far as to affirm that he had the largest collection of books that existed on Bolívar, being also one of his main disseminators and promoters of the formation of Bolivarian societies in the Americas and in the Basque Country  .
So it was that this group that not only reinforced the notion of Basqueness in Bolívar, but also the one which inserted the idea of Basque participation in the emancipation of Spanish-American countries, starting from the linking of Basque surnames in the lists of heroes of the independence movements.
Along the same lines, in 2010 a collective work was carried out in which an attempt was made to answer the same question: What was the participation of the Basques as a collective in the wars of Independence? In this study called ‘The Basques in American Independence’, the performance of this human group in the different emancipatory processes of countries such as Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Mexico, Uruguay, and Venezuela can be observed.
Basically, it was based on the same methodology used until then: the connection with the Basque provinces of individuals who participated in the campaigns for emancipation, drafting of constitutions, and other national events, either by surname, birth, or influence. This left out other stronger links with the Basque provinces, such as individual or collective identity processes, what Independence itself meant for those immigrants, and above all, how this event impacted their daily lives, what economic advantages or disadvantages it offered to their businesses, and what their feelings were in the face of the independence processes, which always meant breaking off with the small homeland.
The above are unresolved questions since only the most intimate documents reveal these connections and it is not possible to find them in the accumulations of biographies, memoirs, and books, where the hero, his military career, promotions, and acts or participation in Independence are the focus. For this reason, in this collective research on Basques and independence movements, I will try to leave open a more reflective proposal that responds to how the Basques developed in America in the face of the challenges, losses, and opportunities offered by a long, unequal, and changing war .
Basque participation in Independence or participation of Basques in Independence?
A question that the studies consulted leave out on the role of the Basques in American republics’ independence, of which it can be said that there is a wide and varied bibliography, and that it is therefore possible to speak of historiography, is the one about the need to know what participation of the Basque collective was. This is because their participation has tended to be generalized, even knowing that this was not a mostly collective process but rather an individual one.
Some studies carried out along this same historiographic line had noticed the problem, such as researcher Alexander Ugalde who, in his article on the collective work ‘The Basques in American Independence’, entitled his chapter on Cuba “The Basques in the wars of Independence of Cuba” . This indicates that the individuals of this group participated in both sides of the war, and incidentally corroborates the thesis of “civil war”, which first arose in the 1980s, which meant a historiographic change that went beyond nineteenth-century, teleological, and simplistic vision which reduced the processes of Independence to national wars between Colonists and Spaniards .
As a group, there is no decided participation of the Basques in the American republics’ emancipatory processes, but rather their initiatives, as will be seen later, were due to individual and family interests that led them to commit themselves to one or the other side. In this sense, it can be affirmed that his contribution to this cause was given anonymously, individually, and voluntarily .
But if in the military and political field, a forceful incidence in the independences cannot be attributed to the Basques, in the field of ideas there is definitely a clear influence. Their contribution to the social, political, and economic transformations experienced by New World societies stands out, helping to change mentalities and promoting modernizing currents of the State. In the same way, the role of Basque institutions as transmitters of ideas and currents that in one way or another accelerated social transformations is easily recognized, especially: the Basque Enlightenment, the societies of friends of the country, and the Compañía Guipuzcoana de Caracas .
Basque institutions in Independence
Enlightenment and independence
The historiography of independence in the Americas has placed the Enlightened as protagonists of the transformations experienced in New World societies in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. We are talking about the band of those living in the New World who had some contact with universal culture, who knew the ideas that were circulating in the main powers of the globe through travel, written material (in many cases, prohibited works that managed to sneak past checkpoints and customs), or by contact with individuals fond of liberal and enlightened theories.
On this in particular, it has always been thought that foreigners had an important role in the spread of this type of ideas; however, their presence was not massive in the overseas kingdoms due to the existing restrictions and controls to obtaining naturalization or residency . For this reason, given the small number of enlightened foreigners who resided in Hispanic America, it is believed that it was those from the Peninsula themselves who were in charge of spreading this type of currents of thought throughout the continent .
Following this argument, the Pyrenean border shared with France was a privileged place for the movement and circulation of ideas; in particular, those that came from contact with the cultural and political movements developed in eighteenth-century France and the different periods through which it passed (revolutions and counter-revolutions). In this sense, the fact that the Basque provinces had a good portion of the thinkers and institutions related to the Enlightenment stands out, although it can be said that this movement was not of the masses, but rather of economic, intellectual, and political elites receptive to this type of thought .
The Basques were also participants in the changes and transformations experienced starting in the mid-18th century in European society, especially during the reign of Charles III, which is when the Bourbon reforms were applied with more vigor. These individuals made valuable contributions in terms of their open and receptive attitude towards the currents, ideologies, philosophies, and other cultural movements that circulated in Europe and that spread from their regions throughout the peninsula and to all corners of the vast Empire.
Basque migration and enlightenment in the viceroyalty of New Granada
In the viceroyalty of New Granada, an entity created only in 1739, there is a large, important and active Basque community rooted in the years prior to the government crisis at the beginning of the 19th century. During the 18th century this population group had assiduously migrated to Tierra Firme (the coasts of the Caribbean and the Pacific as well as the Andean valleys located in the north of South America), managing to become an important part of the elites in these territories prior to the independence movements.
Bilbao-born Francisco de Abrisqueta attributes the development of eighteenth-century Basque migration in this territory to the clientelistic networks (mainly bureaucrats) and peasants created by the Navarrese viceroys Eslava, Guiror, Mendinueta, and Ezpeleta; in particular, because they linked dozens of Basques within their entourages to fulfill functions of their administration and different trades, from the most modest to the most specialized .
In addition to this, it is claimed that the aforementioned viceroys were great Enlightened men and reformists; especially, because they were in charge of carrying out the Bourbon reforms in various sectors such as administration, economy, commerce, legislation, and industry. This claim is also due to the fact that, in general, the Basques were considered, starting in the middle of the eighteenth century, to be educated individuals and working at the service of the two pillars of the Old Regime society: the Church and the State. They held various public positions: accountants, governors, administrators, assentists, auditors, and aldermen, among others, which required prior education or preparation.
In turn, they came to fulfill various tasks, from the arts and crafts useful to the republic, to the most modest ones (farmers, workers, and settlers); but especially, they came to set up their own businesses in industry, transportation, and commerce. Regarding the latter, we must not forget that the Basques are among the great navigators and merchants of this century.
Therefore, trade also meant an important factor that helped the population of Basques and the transfer of ideas. Hence, the massive arrival of Basques to the viceroyalty is also seen as an impulse received by institutions such as the Cía. Guipuzcoana de Caracas, which also contributed, as will be seen below, to the formation of elites who held political and economic power, receptive to new currents of thought and who were active subjects of change .
The Real Compañía Guipuzcoana de Caracas and the transmission of ideas
In the Basque territories and in Navarra, a series of institutions related to the opening of enlightened ideas or that were born as a result of these reforms began to be consolidated, which also played an important role in the transfer of these systems of thought to the other side of the Atlantic. The most important of them is undoubtedly the Cía. Guipuzcoana de Caracas (1728—1785), which in addition to invigorating and diversifying international trade, fulfilled surveillance functions against smuggling and piracy in the Caribbean Sea, from Venezuela to part of New Granada.
As mentioned, this institution favored the immigration of Basques because, parallel to the consolidation of its exporter / importer market, a series of networks of merchants, relatives, and patrons was created that for more than half a century had a presence in the area, and they expanded their networks, families, and businesses inland, reaching the central Andean and mining valleys of the west (Antioquia, Cauca, and Chocó).
In addition to trade and immigration, the Cía. Guipuzcoana contributed to the transfer of prohibited thoughts and books, almost always foreign, and related to revolutionary currents. For this reason, it is not by chance that the first trials of modernity and independence were first presented on the coasts of Venezuela and New Granada, where they surely found a path that had already been paved in the open border space, as was the case in the Circuncaribe and which even reached the interior of South America.
The presence of Enlightened Basques who were somehow connected to the Cía. Guipuzcoana and the impetus that this institution gave to societies of thought through its partners and patrons is proof of that. In particular, with the creation of the Royal Seminary of Vergara, instituted under the patronage of the Cía. Guipuzcoana with the aim of promoting the cultural, scientific, and economic development of the country .
The Societies of Friends of the Country (SAP) and the dissemination of the idea of homeland
In the Americas, the most popular Enlightenment institutions were the SAPs, whose origins are in places like Ireland and Bulgaria, but which quickly spread throughout Europe, the first one on the Peninsula being the one established in the Basque Country. Whether by influence, news circulation, correspondence, immigration, or simple imitation, the SAPs ended up breaking into the whole of the New World, from the extensive and ancient viceroyalties of New Spain and Peru, to the more recent ones such as New Granada and Río de la Plata .
Interactive Whiteboards by PolyVision
Institutions and gatherings had been founded in the Basque territories that served to promote economic growth, the potentialization of commerce, useful arts, agriculture, livestock, manufacturing, and trade of goods and merchandise, among others. Under this purpose, the Royal Basque Society of Friends of the Country (RSBAP) was born in 1764 in Vergara, with the patronage of the Count of Peñaflorida . In 1773, the Real Sociedad Tudelana de los Deseosos del Bien Público was also created in Navarre; and from the following year, with the invitation of Campomanes to form patriotic societies similar to the Basques’, those of Cádiz, Zaragoza, Madrid, Seville, and many others were established .
From an early date, in the Viceroyalty of New Granada, there were individuals who belonged or were members by subscription of the RSBAP. Among the most prominent are Juan José D’Elhuyar, from Logroño, of Basque-French parents, who, together with his brother, the mineralogist Fausto, who had migrated to Mexico, was a long-time and influential member of this institution.
D’Elhuyar was akin to Enlightenment ideas and was the protagonist of the political and economic changes applied in this part of the continents. His contributions stand out in the administration and exploitation of minerals, as he was hired to improve the performance and gold production of New Granada. At the end of the century, he had managed to get the naturalist and scientist from Cádiz, José Celestino Mutis, also based in Bogotá, to register as a corresponding member of this association of Basque thought .
Another prominent member of the RSBAP was the Biscayan Ignacio del Campo Larrahondo, who was also part of other gatherings and societies of thought that boomed in those days in the viceroyalty. Ignacio was one of the founders of the Tertulia Eutrapélica de Bogotá, and, according to Prado, he obtained privileged information from the RSBAP and transmitted it to his countrymen in Popayán to later make important decisions in trade and politics. In his words:
Mr. Ignacio del Campo Larrahondo, a merchant originally from the Lordship of Biscay who maintained connections in Popayán with the influential scientific and political group of his native province, the Sociedad Vascongada, which allowed the group access to privileged information circulating in the península .
At this time in New Granada, the need to create this type of society was seen. Creole Fermín de Vargas was one of the main promoters when trying to found the SAP of Turbaco, Cartagena, in 1781 to improve agriculture (cotton). It is not by chance that he had taken the RSBAP as a model, as he recognized when stating that the patriotic body “should be founded under the same rules as those of Madrid and Biscay, which were also in imitation of those of Bern and Dublin, considering the promotion of the Kingdom as the only point” . Despite his efforts, this institution only came about in 1812 with the founding of the Patriotic Society of Cartagena.
Also this year, in the province of Antioquia, the priest José Londoño, a descendant of Basques by his surname from Orduña, asked the viceroy for permission to found a SAP in Medellín to promote the branches of agriculture, industry, and work . Later, the Asturian visitor Juan Antonio Mon y Velarde, a member of the SAP of his homeland Oviedo, promoted the creation of public and private institutions for the development of education . For this reason, economic societies and SAPs popped up in different towns and cities of Antioquia, and in the same way, Enlightenment individuals converged, which contributed to the development of an incipient patriotism (affection for the small country), determined to favor the arts, agriculture, commerce, and local industry.
The families that inserted themselves into these new forms of sociability, in one way or another, made up the social, political, and economic elite on the eve of Independence, though it is worth mentioning that the Enlightenment category does not necessarily imply identification with the independence processes, as is the case of the Biscayan José María Zuláibar, who was against the Republic despite being considered “the most enlightened Spaniard” who came to the province. There were other Englightenment Basques who did not commit to the republican government, either: Valerio Ramón de Uruburu from Alava, Tomás and Juan Pablo Pérez de Rublas y Arbizu, brothers from Navarra, and also from the Baztán, Juan Bautista Barreneche e Indart, though it is curious that their children did participate in the revolutionary processes .
Aside from the province of Antioquia, we find other SAPs in cities and towns such as Mompox (1780), jurisdiction of the province of Cartagena, founded by Enlightenment Creoles, among whom are some Basque surnames such as Choperena and Echaves. This was one of the most important SAPs of the viceroyalty, since it had corresponding partners such as the naturalist José Celestino Mutis from Cádiz and the Italian engineer Domingo de Esquiaqui .
Another of the oldest societies of the viceroyalty was founded in Santafé de Bogotá in 1801. Although this had already been proposed in the capital’s press by the journalists Rodríguez (in ‘Papel Periódico’ in June 1791) and Lozano (in ‘Correo Curioso’ on November 10, 1801) could not materialize due to lack of financial support. It was not until November 25, 1801 that the sage Mutis decided to create it, and it had the approval of the Baztán viceroy Pedro Mendinueta y Múzquiz. It is important to mention that this company had among its members José and Luis Azuola, son and grandson, respectively, of Miguel Azuola de Iturriza y Murcia from Gipuzkoa.
In this same line of promotion of patriotic societies was the Basque Luis de Astigarraga, resident in Santa Marta and a relative of Governor Joseph de Astigarraga. This individual wrote a 1792 article on New Granada agriculture, published in the ‘Papel Periódico’ and under the pseudonym “a lover of humanity.” In his text, he drew attention to the need to instruct and promote agriculture for the development of the common good, understanding this economic branch as the basis of society and prosperity . Thus, the Basque man fed the discourse of the creation of the SAP as an opportunity for agricultural, industrial, and commercial development.
Around this time, there were other attempts to create SAPs in provinces such as Popayán (1801). However, it is after the Constitution of Cúcuta when a new impetus is given to the creation of these societies. Once again, the province of Antioquia was a pioneer in refounding the SAPs, by means of the decree of March 18, 1822, issued by the Basque-Uruguayan Francisco Urdaneta, governor of Antioquia in two periods .
In this decree, Urdaneta ordered the founding of an SAP in each county seat, made up of 7 residents, with the intention of informing the government about aspects related to the public good and to contribute to education, agriculture, commerce, and the arts . Thus was born the one in Medellín, which had among its members the Basque-descendants Juan Uribe Mondragón and José María Uribe Restrepo . Around the same time, the one of the city of Antioquia and the Society of Friends of the Enlightenment of Marinilla (1839) were created.
Different SAPs were founded in the Caribbean provinces in the 1820-30s. In the town of Mompox, the Sociedad de Amigos de la Instrucción Elemental was established in 1825 with the participation of the Basques Tomás de Choperena and Marcelino de Echaves, followed by their peers in Cartagena (1831) and Barranquilla (1834). In the rest of the country, two were born in Popayán in 1833: the SAP and the Sociedad Amigos de la Instrucción Elemental. In Bogotá, the Sociedad de Instrucción Primaria was created in 1834 and another in Pasto in 1838. In this way, by the middle of the century, most of the country’s cities had an SAP or a society for the promotion of public education.
In this context, it can be observed that the institutions formed in the Basque Country, together with the Englightenment Basques, contributed to the development of local establishments and societies for the public good, particularly to the creation of a patriotic spirit and an elite that was receptive to change and fed an incipient regionalism or patriotism, the same which acted, in times of crisis, as a catalyst of the phenomenon of the emergence of sovereignties that occurred in this part of the continent.
Republican Basques and their contribution to popular sovereignty
Revolutionaries, insurgents, and conspirators
With the Bourbon dynasty, through a series of reforms, new legal-administrative entities were created in the Americas, such as municipalities, captaincies, and new viceroyalties such as the New Kingdom of Granada and of the Río de la Plata. Although these territorial entities were erected as depositaries of the public power and the Spanish administration, it should be clarified, as explained by Francisco Javier Guerra, that the city-provinces (or governorates), already on the eve of Independence, had been configured as true historical communities .
The foregoing is important, since this form of organization managed to create a large-scale bureaucracy, cohesive with the motherland and its interests, which saw in the cities and towns, and in their representative bodies, the municipalities, the possibilities of fulfilling their social, political, and economic aspirations. For this reason, under this structure of order and control, pre-modern New World society was cemented, and Spanish dominance over the vast continents was sustained, without its power and sovereignty having been diminished, questioned, or seriously threatened in more than three hundred years.
In the same way, it is necessary to understand that for the eighteenth century, the basis of this sovereignty and form of government, which was essentially pactist, was based on the power inherited by the Spanish monarch. This is the reason why the absence of Ferdinand VII left a void and a situation of ungovernability that manifested itself across the entire political and social scale. And this is why, as happened in the peninsula, in Spanish America, the main heads of government (city-provinces) began to form representation boards and events where they made their new constitutional pacts.
The acts in support of Ferdinand VII began to be drawn up in Caracas in 1808, in Quito in 1809, and from then on in 1810 other cities of the captaincy were added—Cumaná, San Felipe, Barinas, Mérida, and Barcelona—and from the rest of the viceroyalty—Cartagena, Cali, El Socorro, Bogotá, Tunja, Neiva, Girón, Pamplona, Popayán, Mompox, Novita, Chocó, Antioquia, and Santa Marta, among others. These produced the first attempts at constitutions, but beyond being taken as a desire for total independence from Spain, they meant just the opposite, they were made in the name of the rights of the captive king to rule and to preserve the unity of the Empire; that is, they acted by reacting to the French invasion and the ungovernable situation that the usurpation of the throne had created.
The following year, in an unexpected twist, the Caribbean cities of Caracas and Cartagena, in July and December 1811, respectively, proclaimed their new constitutions, this time breaking away, being the first to do so in all of Hispanic America . Without a doubt, this was the most drastic response to the crisis, since they had decreed the definitive separation of the inexorable ties that bound them to the Spanish mainland. They were timidly followed in subsequent years by a handful of more provinces that believed or saw themselves as having constitutive rights (understood as communities where the foundations of an incipient State had been configured). Among them was Cundinamarca, whose capital Santafé de Bogotá had been viceregal head, which declared its absolute independence from Spain two years after Cartagena (July 19, 1813).
What happened then so that Caracas and Cartagena, peripheral and not central city-provinces, took such a radical turn in less than a year? Obviously it was one of the resultsof the opposition to the Regency Council, which by then had proclaimed itself the superior representative of the Spanish monarchy and its territorial affiliations. In the same way, the same feeling of inequality that had been produced by the low New World representation in the Cádiz parliament (according to the size and number of inhabitants) was worsened the failure to comply with the pragmatics of 1808 that said that the New World territories were not colonies, but rather provinces with the same rights and prerogatives as the ones on the peninsula and were integral parts of the Spanish Empire.
Another of the fundamental reasons that precipitated this change was the influence and pressure of the new circles of thought, which were breaking into New World politics and opinion with force. These are groups made up of individuals belonging to a small and focused elite that unarguably opted for Independence. They were circles of power that were committed to the ideas of freedom and equality, the former understood as adherence to liberal principles and the latter taken in the sense of abolishing monopolies and privileges, the class society, and accelerating the step towards political modernity .
As mentioned, the Basque territories were a focus of opening towards these modern ideas and thoughts, since the institutions that were formed there acted as catalysts for the transformations that were being experienced in the Atlantic axis. So if something can be attributed to the Basques during the New World republics’ independence processes, it is the reception and transmission of information, currents, and systems of Enlightenment thought, in addition to their participation in the first deliberative meetings, constitutional trials, and attempts at modernity.
The Basques in the constitutions and the emergence of sovereignties
To understand the New World republics’ independence processes, it is necessary to take into account the disparity, exceptions, and twists and turns that events took, and especially, the interests that a part of the elites managed in order to mark these processes of change. One should not think from a teleological viewpoint that starts from a specific purpose such as Independence itself; this viewpoint has fortunately been widely surpassed by the historiography of the last few decades .
The maximum aspiration of the Creole elites was always to hold the political and economic power of their respective homelands or political communities (cities or towns) . These were already autonomous entities in which power groups could be created, positions bought, and local politics influenced, as well as making it possible to enter high society through economic dominance. Although the Bourbons tried to limit these privileges, renewing the ruling elites, prohibiting the regidurías or councils in perpetuity, buying administrative positions, and creating political cliques, the economic elites and landowners always devised the most pragmatic way to participate or influence in the affairs of the republic .
In the Basques, it can be seen how, since the 16th century, they had actively participated in the formation of self-protection and peasant networks that had the purpose of joining forces, arms, and collateral capital; in addition to having political and economic weight, investment capacity, and social cohesion. This form of action was manifested in most of the regional elites of the Peninsula, and those that were formed in the Americas, since they were inserted into a power game promoted by the monarchy itself as it granted perks, monopolies, and graces, rewarding good service to the Church and State; and otherwise punishing contempt, disagreement, and betrayal of these powers.
It is observed that during the time of political and social crisis that the French invasion of the Peninsula caused, a sector of Creole society saw the opportunity to take advantage of this situation to obtain more effective control of their respective small homelands. This was the beginning of a series of struggles for local power: while one part of the elites, the most open-minded, saw the opportunity to obtain more privileges and control of the State, the other, the most reactionary, clung to the royalist government and defended its former privileges..
Likewise, it should not be forgotten that this period produced one of the first tests of political modernity that had been seen on the continents, a test which primarily affected the life of the newer, literate, and enlightened generations, hence it is very common to find young men and women, children of Basques, who are enthusiastic about these processes that lead to transformations and changes. And in the opposite case, their parents were much more cautious and remained anxious in the face of events.
Also, as mentioned, the Basques were an Enlightened and prepared elite, and by extension, their children had the opportunity to study in the network of existing universities, colleges, and seminaries in Spanish America. This is a factor that drew many young people from Basque families to the different constitutional processes, for the simple fact of having had an education in law, for being a literate elite, but also for belonging to powerful groups rooted in political and economic power.
In line with the above, very early on, you can see Basque-descendant parliamentarians among the representatives of the first deliberative councils that were formed in their respective town halls or “homelands”: Just to name a few, you can see them among the government boards formed in 1810 in Cartagena (May 22), Santafé de Bogotá (July 20), Santa Marta (August 9), and Antioquia (August 30).
In the first deliberative meetings that were established in Cartagena between 1810 and 1812, the merchant Anselmo José de Urreta, son of the Basque Ramón Urreta Oyárzabal, participated; while in the events of Santa Fe de Bogotá, where the authority of the viceroy Amar y Borbón was deposed (replaced by the government council), there were three Basques as signatories of the provisional charter: Antonio Baraya (son of the Biscayan Antonio Baraya la Campa); Luis Eduardo de Azuola (grandson of Miguel Azuola, a native of Gipuzkoa from the town of Elgueta), and José María Arrubla (from Antioquia, son of Juan Pablo Pérez de Rublas from Navarre).
In Santa Marta, on the other hand, the movement began on August 9, 1810, the date on which the deputies gathered in the Chapter House, led by the governor of Riojan origin, Víctor de Salcedo y Somodevilla. Among them, those of Basque origin were Colonel Josef Munive; the mayors Apolinar de Torres and Josef Nicolás de Ximeno (from Biscay, who came with his brother, Andrés); and the councilor Enrique Arroyuelo (son or brother of Buenaventura Arroyuelo y Bezaral, natives of the Lordship of Biscay).
In Antioquia, as in Santa Marta, the process took place without deposition of the authorities, starting on August 30 at the hands of Governor Francisco de Ayala (born in Panama to parents of Basque origin), who assumed the presidency of the council and summoned the representatives of the main councils of the province: Santafé de Antioquia, Medellín, Rionegro, and Marinilla. Among the deputies attending those of Basque origin were José María Ortiz (son of the Biscayan Domingo de Ortiz y Argote), José María Montoya (descendant of a family from Alava), and José Antonio Londoño (surname originally from Orduña).
In the first place, it must be recognized that these boards and constitutions were still the depositary of the rights to govern granted by Ferdinand VII, therefore, they should not be taken as a crucible of Independence, but on the contrary, protectors of royal sovereignty. Next, it should be understood that, in the four provinces given as an example, among the 22 that existed throughout the viceroyalty (including those of Venezuela and Quito), the processes were disparate and dissimilar. In the majority, even in Cartagena, the Regency Council was recognized as the highest body; while in Santa Fe de Bogotá, capital of the viceroyalty, although it did so initially, days later it denied this attribution.
The step towards the total breakaway was presented in the government of Cartagena, first in Mompox, and later in the head of government in the city of Cartagena. Among the representatives who signed the declaration of absolute Independence of this city are José de Arrázola y Ugarte from Oñati and Anselmo Urreta from Cartagena (already mentioned), both representatives of the capital; Luis José de Echegaray, commissioner of the Mompox Department; and Nicolás de Zubiría, born in southern Italy, but of clear Basque origins due to his surname.
In Riohacha it was a woman of Basque origin, Concepción Loperena, who from 1812 led the process of formation of government boards. In 1813, she was one of the signatories of the definitive Act of Independence of the city of Valledupar, on February 4, leaving the following words in black and white in this constitutional letter:
Let it be known to all who see this act, like me, María Concepción Loperena Fernández de Castro, a free woman, of royalist origin but today a republican, on behalf of the council of justice and regiment of this illustrious city, proclaims the city of Valle de Upar to be free and independent of the Spanish government and submits it to the auspices of the Supreme President SE Jorge Tadeo Lozano, and makes all those present here aware that the illustrious city is by this act, now that it is ten o’clock in the morning, free and ready to fight for the freedom of all the peoples that are united with the indestructible bond of language and thought .
Similarly, in the province of Antioquia, which decreed its Independence two years after Cartagena (1813) to establish itself as a free and sovereign Republic, among the signatories of its Magna Carta and the participants from Basque government are mens such as José María Hortiz ( already mentioned), who took over as Secretary of War and Finance; Dr. Avelino Uruburo, son of Fernando de Uruburu from Alava, who served as War Auditor and Advisor to the Administration; and Pedro Arrubla, another of the sons of Juan Pablo Pérez de Rublas from Navarre, who served as Mayor and Judge of Police and Public Security.
In turn, at late dates, on October 9, 1820, among the individuals who signed the act of Independence of Quito are San Sebastian-born Bernardo Alzúa y Lamar, Manuel Ignacio Aguirre (who it is mentioned to have been Spanish by birth, without determining the province of origin), Francisco Xavier de Aguirre Cepeda; José María de Antepara y Arenaza; and José Ramón de Arrieta y Echegaray, among others .
As it is possible to observe, most of the individuals mentioned here were sons of Basques, so it can be concluded that while some generations of Basques born in the Americas passionately adhere to the turns that the wars took, their parents, born in Europe, were more cautious about maintaining radical or compromising positions.
The children of the revolution
Between 1810 and 1813, the condition of the Basque families, like that of many other Spanish families, presented a particular dialectical relationship. They fought between continuing with loyalty to the monarchy, which represented the peninsular kingdoms, and therefore maintained the privileges and fueros of their small homelands, or embracing a new one in the cluster of states that were emerging after the royal sovereignty had been spread over the villages.
Of those Basque-Navarrese families that supported independence, it can be inferred that they were guided in a pragmatic way by their relationship with trade, since it was of enormous importance to maintain businesses and families. It was such that, between 1810 and 1813, the Basques born in the peninsula were more careful to commit themselves to one side or the other in order to safeguard their property, lives, and family.
In the family of the Biscayan Ignacio Del Campo Larrahondo, the back-and-forth between one side or the other can be seen as events turned. One of his sons, Mariano, participated in the 1810 commission that traveled from Popayán to Cali and Caloto to make the Regency Council (representative of the king) recognized. By 1814, it is stated that his political thinking had turned, which earned him the seizure of his assets by the royalist government. In turn, one of his brothers, Manuel, was part of the officer corps of a 1,100-man strong troop that faced off against the royalist leader Miguel Tacón .
In particular, very well-defined kindreds that made up the independence elite are observed in this process. This is the case of the offspring of the Arrubla family, a clan from Navarra based in Antioquia. It is possible that its links with the republican movement stem from the strategic link between Josefa Arrubla Martínez and Juan del Corral, from Mompox, who became the first president-dictator of the Free and Sovereign Republic of Antioquia.
One of his brothers-in-law, the lawyer José María Arrubla Martínez, participated as a signatory of the Act of Absolute Independence of the State of Cundinamarca in 1813, an event that led him to be shot by Morillo on September 10, 1816 along with other members of the Santa Fe elites. His other relative, Pedro Arrubla Martínez, was part of the House of Representatives of the People, the legislative body of the Sovereign State of Antioquia that on April 20, 1814 approved the law for the emancipation of the children of slaves. Unfortunately, this same month Del Corral passed away. José Miguel de La Calle took over as provincial president of the State on April 8, 1814.
The last male of the clan, Manuel Arrubla Martínez, went into exile in 1816, fearing reprisals from the peacemaker Morillo, for his clear political ties with his Republican family. He returned in 1821 during the Second Republic, being one of those, together with Francisco Montoya, another Basque in Antioquia, who was in charge of obtaining in England a loan to support the expenses of the War of Independence.
The same kindreds committed to the emancipatory cause can be observed in the city of Santafé de Bogotá where, among the binds that tied these power relations together, were some Basque families that had woven their ties in the province of Antioquia. These are the Basque surnames Ricaurte, Terreros, and Baraya, who, along with others Lozano, Paris and Mauris joined with, contributed to the formation of the New Granada military and political elite .
This familial network not only aligned the military elites and the ruling class in support of Independence, but also enlisted various members of their families in their cause. This is the case of Genoveva Ricaurte Mauris, from Antioquia, mother and wife of Republicans, who participated in the network of spies and logistical support during the period of confrontation between federalists and centralists. Precisely because of her insurgent activities, she was sentenced to exile in the municipality of Fusagasugá, along with her granddaughter Dolores Vargas Paris. Her cousin, Jorge Ramón de Posada y Mauris, priest of Marinilla, is also considered one of the patriots who helped the most in the uprising of troops during the First and Second Republic in Antioquia.
Josefa Baraya, daughter of the Basque Antonio Baraya La Campa, was also inserted in this same familial network that was committed to the republican government. Due to her participation in the events of July 20 in Bogotá, she was exiled with her children to the town of Manta.
Like the above, other women branded as helping the revolution who seem to have a Basque origin were: Liberata Ricaurte, Juana Ricaurte, Andrea Ricaurte de Lozano, Francisca Prieto Ricaurte, Trinidad Ricaurte, Rita París, Dolores Olano, Josefa Ezquerra, Eugenia Arrázola, Manuela Uzcátegui , Rosa Zarate, Simona Amaya, Bárbara Ortiz, Pascuala Lizarazo, Dorotea Lenis, Josefa Lizarralde, Policarpa Salavarrieta, Estefanía Neira de Eslava, and Concepción Loperena. In the case of men there are: Felipe Largacha, Antonio Arboleda y Arrachea (grandson of the Biscayan Martin Arrachea y Urrutia) and others of the 82 names taken by Abrisqueta such as Alejo Sabaraín, Manuel Anguiano, Domingo Araos, Sebastián Carranza, Diego Galarza, Martín Gamboa, Rafael Lataza, Mariano Metauten, Pastor Uribe, Juan Zabala.
To this list, we can add Manuela Sáenz de Vergara y Aizpuru (great-granddaughter of the Basque Juan Ignacio de Aizpuru y Erazo) who, in addition to being an activist for independence, was a companion to Bolívar y saved him from the attack he suffered September 25, 1828, where, curiously, to Basques were involved as main conspirators: Wenceslao Zuláibar (son of the Biscayan José María Zuláibar) and his French partner, Augustín Horment.
The Basques in the patriotic armies in New Granada
Of the hundreds of children of Basques who participated in the republican navy or army, some families like the Ricaurtes reached a privileged position. As mentioned, these belonged to a familial network concentrated in Santafé de Bogotá that in times of crisis was involved in politics and war. From this family alone came military leaders such as Joaquín Ricaurte Torrijos (1766-1820), Antonio Baraya Ricaurte (1776-1816), Antonio Ricaurte y Lozano (1786-1814), Mariano París Ricaurte (1788-1833), Joaquín París Ricaurte ( 1795-1868), and Antonio París Ricaurte (1793-1846).
In Antioquia, Colonel Mariano Barreneche stood out, grandson of the Baztán Navarrese Juan Bautista Barreneche e Indart, who at the age of 15 enlisted in the Republican army, carrying out the campaigns on the Atlantic coast until the surrender of Cartagena. In addition, he participated in the battles of Pichincha, Junín, and Ayacucho. Mariano enlisted in the military school formed in Antioquia by the sage Caldas under the instruction of the Frenchman Serviez. Many young soldiers came out of them, some of Basque origin, as can be seen in the surnames of the 4 officers of the fourth company of the Antioquia Battalion: Captain José Urrea, Lieutenants Manuel Álzate and Manuel Ortiz, and Second Lieutenant Joaquín Viana .
Other members of the military elite of the viceroyalty of New Granada were José Luciano D’Elhuyar y la Bastida (1793-1815), from Santafé, son of the Basque mineralogist Juan José D’Elhuyar; the Cartagena-born Gregorio María Urreta, son of the Basque Ramón Urreta y Oyarzabal; and José Ignacio Mazuera y Renteria from Cauca Valley (1773), grandson of the Basque Francisco de Rentería. To these we add the Quito man born in Guaranda, Manuel de Echeandía (1783-1850), son of Fernando de Echandía y Saloa, from Durango .
Other Basques participated notably in the formation of the first national armies. This is the case of the captain of the port of Guayaquil, Manuel Antonio de Luzarraga y Echezurria, born in Mundaka, Biscay, who made the schooner Alcance available to the Independence movement. Especially, Juan Nepomuceno Eslava, son of Viceroy Sebastián de Eslava y Lazaga , stood out, and in September 1810, he was appointed commander of the Cartagena station, replacing the also Basque Andrés Oribe, by decree of García de Toledo.
In those troubled times, Eslava asked the Spanish Minister of the Navy, in January 1811, whether or not he should accept the position. The answer, which came in April of the same year, was emphatic in ordering him to continue in the post as long as he was not ordered to attack those loyal to Ferdinand VII. However, starting in March, the political climate had deteriorated to the point that he had to leave his post in October of the same year. Even so, he is considered to be the first commander of the .
By this time, Cartagena was organizing its national navy by founding the first naval school in 1812, although the most pragmatic alternative that it used to achieve a moderately competent navy was the incorporation of foreign mercenaries and privateers. Indeed, the French Commodore Luis Aury was the one who replaced Eslava in the general command of this place. Aury had been hired by business agents in the West Indies and Baltimore, so his crew consisted of individuals of various nationalities: Americans, Corsicans, Genoese, British, and especially French West Indian blacks, and other French Europeans. Therefore, it is likely that a French Basque sailor has joined his crew.
Around this same time, the first French conspirators began to arrive to organize insurgent cells on the coasts of Venezuela and New Granada. Most of them arrived aboard the frigate Tilsit from Bayonne (Northern Basque Country) to the Patapsco estuary, in the United States . From there, they went to South America to carry out espionage work, recruit men, and carry out all kinds of support for Independence. It is not fortuitous that the French were the first organized bodies—cadres of officers, non-commissioned officers and troops—from outside the Americas that arrived to support the incipient republics. Hence, hundreds of French people are remembered who first served in the Miranda government, and after its fall in 1814, in New Granada.
Among the mercenaries and civilians enlisted in the Republic during the war period, it is possible to find individuals born on the French side of the Bay of Biscay, mainly from Bayonne and Bearne, nationalized as Colombians. Although there are no birth data for their surnames, Basque roots can be observed in individuals such as Lamothe, Olleta (of the Andrés and Juan María brothers), and Dousdebes (Jean).
With the same ends: to support the American revolutions, dozens of Basque mercenaries came from the Peninsula, who were also nationalized and held positions in the republican armies.
Basques in the entire corps of volunteers, the case of Javier Mina
One of the lesser-known episodes of the New World republics’ emancipatory processes is the arrival from the peninsula of volunteers, some of them Basque, enlisted in the republican armies. It can be said that these individuals were attached to the Constitution of Cádiz and therefore they had rebelled against monarchical absolutism, as happened with Javier Mina from Navarre, who crossed the Atlantic to fight for the Independence of Mexico and New Granada.
Mina had fought against the French occupation by forming a body called “Corso Terrestre de Navarra.” In 1814, he was taken prisoner and was transferred to the Château de Vincennes, where he stayed until the fall of Napoleon. After his return to Pamplona, he was offered command of a division against the Mexican rebels, however, not only did he reject the proposal, but later he rose up in Pamplona together with his uncle Espoz Mina against Ferdinand VII.
Crossing the French border, he was arrested and taken to Bayonne and later released. He went to London, where he was in contact with figures who supported the independence of South America, such as Lord Holland, Admiral Fleming, US General Winfield Scott, the Venezuelan delegate in England Luis López Méndez, the agent of New Granada in France, Palacios Fajardo, and the Mexican prelate José Servando de Mier. As a result of these meetings, Mina managed to get a ship, men, arms, and ammunition to carry out an eventual campaign on New World soil.
From Liverpool, he traveled to the United States aboard the frigate Caledonia, meeting in Baltimore with Pedro Gual, a New Granada commissioner whom he asked for support for his military campaign in Mexico. From there, he agreed to a meeting with Bolívar, exiled in Haiti, obtaining support for his armed incursion on the condition that, once his mission was completed, he would lead his troops to South America. However, in his revolutionary purpose in Mexican lands, he had the misfortune to be taken prisoner and be executed.
Like Mina, dozens of supporters from the Peninsula for the cause of Independence came from Europe. Their motivations are, as mentioned, in their political and ideological convictions in the fight against monarchical absolutism; but they were also motivated by the promise of glory in faraway lands, good pay, and a rise through the military ranks.
Since the First Republic, foreign mercenaries had already been hired who would have had some success, however, problems related to differences in languages, character, and temperaments immediately arose . This series of setbacks led Bolívar to think that for the success of the military campaigns, it was necessary for “complete and organized bodies” of combatants to arrive from Europe . his is how the British, Irish, Hanoverian, and other legions began to arrive from the northern hemisphere and came to be distributed by nations friendly to the South American revolution.
Likewise, given the difficulty of achieving a good understanding between the foreign and Creole military, Bolívar approved of the enlistment of legionaries coming directly from the peninsula, including Basques, aligned with the New World cause. This strategy greatly excited the man from Caracas who stated: “Nothing is so precious to us as the acquisition of expert and experienced military personnel, accustomed to our uses and equal to us in language and religion” .
For this reason, Bolívar contacted Lieutenant Francisco Renovales to bring a corps of Spanish volunteers stating: “You would do us a real service by offering us your active cooperation in the reestablishment of the Independence of the Americas, and this will be all the greater if you manage to attract to our cause the largest possible number of Spanish soldiers who want to adopt a free homeland in the Western hemisphere ” .
The exact number of mercenaries from the Peninsula who came because of Renovales’ efforts is not known, however, more and more individuals of this origin are found enlisted in the republican armies. Among them, Juan Bautista Insusarri, Joaquín Lezama, Pedro Navarro, J. Quintana, Guillermo Zarrasqueta, and subjects with surnames such as Ayaldeburu and Ercilla, among others, can be considered as Basques .
Another reason for the increase of people from the Peninsula, and in our case, of Basques, in the republican military forces, was the increasing number of deserters from the royalist army. This happened, in part, thanks to the offer that Bolívar made of lands, salaries, and superior military ranks to those held by those who changed sides and adopted Colombian nationality. Thus, between 1823 and 1825, many Spanish and Basque military personnel obtained a letter of naturalization from the Colombian government (see table 1).
Once the wars of Independence in Spanish America ended, the individuals who migrated after 1810 ended up settling and forming families in the territory. Together with the Basques who had previously migrated, whether they were republicans or forgiven royalists, they participated in the founding of a new territorial entity called the Republic of Colombia (modern-day Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, and Panama).
One of the immediate consequences of the breakaway processes that took place in the Circuncaribe, a traditional place of the eighteenth-century Basque exodus, was the decline of the presence and assiduous migration of this group. Surprisingly, a few decades later, waves of uprooted Basques would en masse head for the republics that had been born from the same process of American independence in the extreme south: Argentina and Uruguay.
In conclusion, in order to understand Basque participation in the New World revolutions, it must be emphasized that their intervention is not part of a collective process but mostly individual and at most as a family. This can be observed in the diversity of points of view that this group had regarding Independence: there are those from the most skeptical and indifferent, to the most fanatical of one or the other side. There are also moderate and changing positions according to the turn of events.
Next, as in any process of change linked to modernity, it is very important to observe the breaks or discontinuities. In this sense, the analysis of the intergenerational transition that was experienced within the institution of the family can provide more details about the paradigm shift, since it is evident that the parents belonged to an archaic and conservative society, while the children were more open to proposals for social, cultural, political, and economic renewal.
Finally, most of the pre-independence New World elites were related to regional peninsular lineages on the paternal side and connected in their maternal genealogical lines with descendants of the first conquerors and founders of cities. From their parents, they absorbed the particularities of their homelands of origin, while from their mothers they assumed the rights to the land where they were born. This perhaps explains why the individuals who participated in these early trials of modernity, reform, and revolution saw themselves as true “patricians” and “patriots.”
The latter leads us to think about the appropriation of the term “homeland” by the New World political communities and the role that immigrants and institutions (patriotic societies and of friends of the country) had in this transfer, with the pre-modern use of the word, as the place where parents come from, which is which precisely where the words pater families, patriarchs, patricians, and patriots come from. This notion is important because it allows us to understand the role that the Basques, and the regional elites, played in the configuration of the territory, and on the eve of Independence, in the founding of the multiple republics that declared themselves free and sovereign of the Spanish mainland.
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GALÍNDEZ, Jesús de. El panamericanismo de Bolívar. La Doctrina Monroe y el Congreso de Panamá. En: Constancio CASSÁ (Comp.). Escritos desde Santo Domingo y artículos contra el régimen de Trujillo en el exterior. Comisión Permanente de Efemérides Patrias, 2010, pp. 231-235.
GARCÍA, Rodrigo. La condición de extranjero en el tránsito de la colonia a la república en la Nueva Granada (1750-1830). Tesis doctoral (Quito, Universidad Andina Simón Bolívar, 2012).
GÓMEZ, Estanislao. Don Mariano Ospina y su época. Imprenta Departamental, l913.
GUERRA, François-Xavier. Modernidad e independencias. Ensayos sobre las revoluciones hispánicas. Ediciones Encuentro, 2009.
________. (comp.). Revoluciones Hispánicas: independencias americanas y liberalismo español. Editorial Complutense, 1995.
JURADO, Fernando. Actores de la Independencia. Datos genealógicos. Banco Central de Ecuador, 2010.
KEREXETA, Jaime de; & ABRISQUETA, Francisco de. Vascos en Colombia. Editorial Oveja Negra, 1985.
MANTILLA, Carlos. Los franciscanos en la independencia de Colombia. Academia Colombiana de Historia, 1995.
MEJÍA, David. Glosas a la desamortización y otras páginas de historia. Universidad de la Sabana, 1998.
PACHECO, Juan. La Ilustración en el Nuevo Reino. Universidad Andrés Bello. 1975.
PELAY, Miguel. Bolívar y los vascos. DEIA, 20 de marzo de 1980.
PIEDRAHITA, Javier. Documentos y estudios para la historia de Medellín. Editorial Colina, 1984.
RESTREPO, José Manuel. “Ensayo sobre la geografía, producciones, industria y población de la provincia de Antioquia en el nuevo reino de granada”, Semanario del Nuevo Reino de Granada, n. 6, Santafé de Bogotá, 12 de febrero de 1809.
RESTREPO, José María. Gobernadores de Antioquia. (Vol. 112). Imprenta Nacional, 1970.
RICAURTE, John. Vascos, independencia y restauración en la Nueva Granda. Similitudes culturales y bandos diferentes 1810-1830. XV Congreso Colombiano de Historia, Bogotá, Colombia: Asociación Colombiana de Historiadores, 2010.
________. Los vascos en Antioquia durante la administración borbónica (1700-1810). Centro vasco Gure Mendietakoak. 2019.
SALCEDO, Luis. Bolívar: Un continente y un destino: Historiografía de la visión integradora. Universidad Central de Venezuela, 1972.
SILVA, Renán. Los ilustrados de Nueva Granada 1760-1808, Genealogía de una comunidad de interpretación. Banco de la República / EAFIT, 2002.
TORRES, Jesús. El Almirante Padilla. Ediciones El Tiempo, 1983.
UGALDE, Alexander. Los vascos ante las guerras de Independencia de Cuba. En: Los vascos en las independencias americanas. Editorial Oveja Negra, 2010, pp. 179-215.
URIBE, María Teresa; & ÁLVAREZ, Jesús María. Las raíces del poder regional: El caso antioqueño. Universidad de Antioquia, 1998.
USLAR, Arturo. Letras y hombres de Venezuela. Monte Ávila Editores, 1995.
VARGAS, Fermín de. Pensamientos políticos y memoria sobre la población del Nuevo Reino de Granada. Biblioteca Popular de Cultura Colombiana. Imprenta Nacional, 1944.
VIVAS, Gerardo. La aventura naval de la Compañía Guipuzcoana de Caracas. Fundación Polar, 1998.
 Armando MARTÍNEZ. La desigual conducta de las provincias neogranadinas en el proceso de la Independencia., n 14, v. 1, pp. 37–54.
 Francisco de ABRISQUETA. Los vascos en la Independencia de Colombia. En: Los vascos en las independencias americanas. Editorial Oveja Negra, 2010, p. 155.
 His surname was brought from Bizkaia by his seventh paternal grandfather Miguel Ochoa de la Rementeria y Bolívar-Jáuregui, so that in his family traces of New World mixing can be found. Salcedo indicates that in addition to being indigenous, he had: “a bit of African blood, in addition to that which came to him primarily through Castilians, Galicians, Basques, Navarrese, Portuguese, Aragonese, Andalusians, Italians, Germans, Extremadurans, Asturians, French, Catalan, English, Hungarian, Canarian, etc. Salvador Madariaga rightly asserts: the sixty surnames are like so many roots through which the saps of so many families from the New and Old world reach Simón Bolívar to nourish their being with memories and traditions that are much stronger than his own awareness of them”. Luis SALCEDO. Bolívar: A continent and a destination: Historiography of the integrative vision. Central University of Venezuela, 1972, p. 68.
 The concept of “homeland” is key to understanding the processes of Hispanic American Independence, since it is taken in its ancient etymological sense as the birthplace of the parents.
 Miguel PELAY. Bolívar y los vascos. DEIA, March 20, 1980.
 Jesús de GALÍNDEZ. El panamericanismo de Bolívar. La Doctrina Monroe y el Congreso de Panamá. En: Constancio CASSÁ (Comp.). Escritos desde Santo Domingo y artículos contra el régimen de Trujillo en el exterior. Comisión Permanente de Efemérides Patrias, 2010, pp. 231-235.
 Among his leading works about Bolívar are: A un Joven Vasco (1965), Bolívar y los Vascos (1965), El Bilbao de Bolívar (1966), Bolívar y los Vascos (1969), y Oda a Bolívar (1967).
 The books about the Basques in Coombia touching on Bolívar and independence are: ABRISKETA. Presencia Vasca en Colombia. Eusko Jaurlaritzaren Argitalpen – zerbitzu Nagusia / Servicio Central de Publicaciones del Gobierno Vasco. Vitoria – Gasteiz, 1983; ABRISQUETA. Los vascos en la Independencia de Colombia. En: Los vascos en las independencias americanas. Editorial Oveja Negra, 2010; y Francisco de ABRISQUETA & Jaime de KEREXETA. Vascos en Colombia. Editorial Oveja Negra, 1985.
 A more complete version, where all these stereotypes and complexities can be observed, especially the feelings and losses of those who were in favor of the king, can be found in the book Los vascos en Antioquia durante el siglo XIX, to be published soon.
 In Cuba and Colombia, it is difficult to find regiments, battalions, units, or groups made up of Basques on the Republican side. Curiously, on the ruling side, this finding is possible, since the military tradition of this group in the Spanish army and navy is already known. For this reason, although in this work only those who participated in favor of the Republic will be presented, it is necessary to understand the complexity of the matter, since the Basques, be they from the New or Old World, find themselves in two opposing positions: the royalists or conservatives of rights to govern of Ferdinand VII and those who formed autonomous government boards, and who in an unexpected turn opted for Independence.
 From these works, in the face of the great polarization and support of the popular sectors for Ferdinand VII, the notion of “civil war” came about to indicate how those individuals and families moved between one side and the other according to their interests, loyalty system, and political convictions. Alexander UGALDE. Los vascos ante las guerras de Independencia de Cuba. En: Los vascos en las independencias americanas. Editorial Oveja Negra, 2010, pp. 179-215.
 These are individuals from the Basque provinces and their New World children who personally and for individual reasons were linked to this kind of civil war. In the children of Basques, it is observed that while some of them tended to align themselves with republican ideas, their parents continued their loyalty to the king, and it is in the family where social tensions arise. In addition, it should be clarified that the fact that there are Basques participating in these events is temporary, since basically the individuals and their families developed in accordance with their economic and political interests, their position in society, ideas and thoughts, causes and loyalties.
 The latter, although by the time of Independence it was already in decomposition, had left a base of families of economic and political elites favorable to regime change. For this reason, it is necessary to include them in this process, not because they are architects and financiers of emancipatory processes, ashappened in the Independence of the United States with the decisive support of the Biscayan banker and diplomat Diego de Gardoqui, but because they are transmitters of the new streams of thought. Reyes CALDERÓN. Gritos de independencia. Ediciones Encuentro, S. A., 2004; y Thomas CHÁVEZ. España y la Independencia de Estados Unidos. Taurus, 2005.
 Those foreigners who had some connection with Spain could obtain the residency card and naturalization: married to subjects of the king, former residents, for exercising a useful occupation to the state, among others.. Archivo General de la Nación. República, Archivo Anexo, Historia, t. 3, d. 76, f. 570– 572r.
 From the reign of Charles III, Enlightenment ideas were absorbed in a particular way, not in a radical way like its continental (France) and insular (England) European neighbors. It was located within the so-called Catholic Enlightments that occurred in countries such as Italy, Austria, some German states, and other Eastern countries, conditioned by the ties of fidelity to the monarchy, filtered in the political and religious, and oriented mainly towards the economy. Izaskun ÁLVAREZ. Memorias de la Ilustración: Las Sociedades Económicas de Amigos del País en Cuba, 1783-1832. RSBAP / Departamento de Publicaciones, 2000, p. 24.
 In the Basque-French territories, a strong presence of intellectuals such as Jean Baptista Barthélemy, Etienne de Polverel, and the Garat brothers, among others, was already felt. In the Basque provinces there were Munive, the Count of Alacha, the Marquis of Narros, and the Marquis of Montehermoso, among others. In Navarre: José María Magallón; the Marquis of San Adrián, and Francisco Javier de Argaiz. And other characters such as Miguel Olaso, Ignacio de Altuna, Fermín de Guilisasti. Jesús ASTIGARRAGA. Los ilustrados vascos. Ideas, instituciones y reformas económicas en España. Editorial Crítica, 2003.
 Francisco de ABRISQUETA. Los vascos en la Independencia… Op. Cit., pp. 149 y ss.
 John RICAURTE. Los vascos en Antioquia durante la administración borbónica (1700-1810). Centro vasco Gure Mendietakoak. 2019, pp. 13 y ss.
 Some of its ships were armed and adapted to monitor the coasts of Tierra Firme, the Orinoco River on the current Colombian-Venezuelan border, and the province of Riohacha, New Granada. Gerardo VIVAS. La aventura naval de la Compañía Guipuzcoana de Caracas. Fundación Polar, 1998, p. 303.
 Among the main founders were Xavier María de Munibe and Idiáquez, count of Peñaflorida, whose family had shares in the Real Compañía Guipuzcoana de Caracas. Arturo USLAR. Letras y hombres de Venezuela. Monte Ávila Editores, 1995, p. 36.
 This type of institution ended up spreading to the other side of the Atlantic, not only because of the epistolary relationship between both continents, but also because of the press that circulated in the form of newspapers and gazettes, and especially, because of the migratory flows of peninsular Europeans to the Americas and from Creole Americans to Europe.
 The main founders of this society were Enlightenment Basques such as Eguía, Altuna, Munibe, Foronda, Villahermosa, Olavide, Azara, Meléndez Valdés, and Samaniego.
 Juan PACHECO. La Ilustración en el Nuevo Reino. Universidad Andrés Bello. 1975, p. 72.
 Renán SILVA. Los ilustrados de Nueva Granada 1760-1808, Genealogía de una comunidad de interpretación. Banco de la República / EAFIT, 2002, p. 287.
 Fernando PRADO. Del cabildo a la plaza. Popayán 1809-1810. Revista Historia y Espacio, v. 5: n. 33, 2009, p. 9.
 Fermín de VARGAS. Pensamientos políticos y memoria sobre la población del Nuevo Reino de Granada. Biblioteca Popular de Cultura Colombiana. Imprenta Nacional, 1944, p. 16.
 Renán SILVA. Los ilustrados de Nueva… Op. Cit., p. 287.
 Juan PACHECO. Op. Cit. p. 72.
Javier PIEDRAHITA. Documentos y estudios para la historia de Medellín. Editorial Colina. 1984, p. 395.
 Claim of his great-grandson Estanislao, most likely based on his personal library and the education his daughters had: intellectuals, philanthropists, and outstanding ladies of Antioquia society. Estanislao GÓMEZ. Don Mariano Ospina y su época. Imprenta Departamental, l913, p. 563.
 John RICAURTE. Vascos, independencia y restauración en la Nueva Granda. Similitudes culturales y bandos diferentes 1810-1830. XV Congreso Colombiano de Historia, Bogotá, Colombia: Asociación Colombiana de Historiadores, 2010.
 Juan PACHECO. Op. Cit. p. 73.
 Ibid. p. 73.
 Luis de ASTIGARRAGA. Disertación sobre la Agricultura. Dirigida a los habitantes del Nuevo Reino de Granada. Papel Periódico de Santafé de Bogotá, n. 55, 2 de marzo de 1792.
 Urdaneta was born in 1791 in Montevideo and came from a family of Basques spread throughout various parts of the Americas: his father Francisco de Urdaneta Tronconis had settled in Uruguay; his uncle, Martín, worked as an accountant in Bogotá; and his other uncle Miguel Jerónimo settled in Venezuela.
 José María RESTREPO. Gobernadores de Antioquia. (Vol. 112). Imprenta Nacional, 1970, p. 128.
 In addition to the Uribe family, this society was made up of Messrs. Juan Carrasquilla, Juan Santamaría, Manuel Tirado, and the religious Franco Benítez and Manuel Obeso. Of them, Santamaría was the brother-in-law of the Biscayan José María Zuláibar. Francisco DUQUE. Historia del Departamento de Antioquia. Albon, 1968, p. 583.
 One of his partners was the politician and Latin teacher Pedro de Ibarra, a descendant of Basques by his surname, but classified as mestizo or mulatto because his father had been captain of the pardos militia. AGN, Empleados Públicos de Antioquia (en adelante EPA), t. 12, f. 667.
 Claudia ARROYO. Sociabilidades en los inicios de la vida republicana. Nueva Granada 1820-1839. Historia Critica, n. 54, septiembre – diciembre 2014, p. 154.
 The viceroyalty of New Granada was established only in 1739 and under this new territorial assignment a series of cities and (historical) provinces that were part of the viceroyalty of Peru were brought together.
 François-Xavier GUERRA. Modernidad e independencias. Ensayos sobre las revoluciones hispánicas. Ediciones Encuentro, 2009, pp. 88-89 y 93-94.
 It is claimed that in the province of Cartagena, the town of Mompox had created its act of absolute Independence from Spain on August 6, 1810, therefore, this would be the first of its kind in the Caribbean.
 François-Xavier GUERRA. (comp.). Revoluciones Hispánicas: independencias americanas y liberalismo español. Editorial Complutense, 1995.
 Antioquia-born intellectual José Manuel Restrepo claimed that the viceroyalty of New Granada, adding the territories of the Audiencia of Quito and the Captaincy of Venezuela, was made up of several countries or homelands that coexisted in such a vast territory. José Manuel RESTREPO, “Ensayo sobre la geografía, producciones, industria y población de la provincia de Antioquia en el nuevo reino de granada”, Semanario del Nuevo Reino de Granada, n. 6, Santafé de Bogotá, 12 de febrero de 1809, p. 27.
 Uribe and Álvarez indicate that one of the maneuvers to concentrate the political and economic power of the elites was the strategic Catholic marriage, which consisted of linking the daughters of a Creole merchant or landowner with a Spanish immigrant who had no restrictions to occupy public positions. María Teresa URIBE y Jesús María ÁLVAREZ. Las raíces del poder regional: El caso antioqueño. Universidad de Antioquia, 1998, pp. 178 y ss.
 Valledupar Independence Act of February 4, 1813.
 Fernando JURADO. Actores de la Independencia. Datos genealógicos. Banco Central de Ecuador, 2010.
 Arcesio ARAGÓN. Fastos payaneses. 1536-1936. Imprenta Nacional, 1940, p. 179.
 Daughter of Juan Pablo Pérez de Rublas y Arbizu from Navarre, and Rita Martínez y Ferreiro from Antioquia, who in turn was the daughter of Bernardo Martínez from Galicia. On his side, Del Corral was the son of another Galician merchant, Ramón del Corral, and of María Jerónima Alonso, from Mompox. His family had commercial interests with Antioquia, hence his decision to leave Mompox and settle in the city of Santafé de Antioquia.
 Primitive Biscayan lot of which Pedro López de Ayala says that his lot was below San Pedro de Garragoechea (Biscay), in a place called Bar-Kugi (big rock). Arango indicates that Rafael was born in Bogotá and resided in Medellín between 1740 and 1745, where he was mayor and “married doña María Ignacia Mauris, daughter of don Manuel Mauris and doña Liberata de Posada (216). His parents were José Salvador Ricaurte and Francisca Terreros Villarreal. Those of Mr. José Salvador Ricaurte were: his parents, Mr. José Ricaurte y Verdugo, a native of Salamanca, and Mrs. Ana de León Castellanos; paternal grandparents Don Pedro Ricaurte and Doña Isabel Pulido y Verdugo; maternal grandparents, Don Miguel de León and Doña Antonia Díaz de Santiago. Doña Francisca Terreros y Villareal was the daughter of Don Agustín Terreros Villareal, a native of Bilbao, who lived in Remedios from 1650 to 1655, and of Doña Mariana Villarreal Arizeta”. Cf. Gabriel ARANGO MEJÍA. Genealogías de Antioquia y Caldas. 1973, t. 2, p. 291.
 This confirms that his family and familial network was committed to the republican cause and independence, both in Antioquia and in Bogotá, capital of the viceroyalty. Sub-elite that was achieved through the marriage between José Salvador Ricaurte and Francisca Terreros, both surnames connected with lineages from Bilbao. Among his sons were Rafael, father of Genoveva Ricaurte Mauris, heroine of the Independence and wife of the military man José Martín París Álvarez (parents of the military José Ignacio París Ricaurte, 1780-1848). One of his granddaughters, Dolores Vargas Paris (1800-1878) was the wife of Rafael Urdaneta.
 Francisco de ABRISQUETA. Los vascos en la Independencia… Op. Cit., pp. 161-164
 Mariano was born in Envigado in a traditional Antioquia family as his father recounted in a letter “I got married on January 19, 1803 on March 23, 1804 my son Mariano was born, he was baptized by Dr. Cristóbal de …”. Cited in: David MEJÍA VELILLA. Glosas a la desamortización y otras páginas de historia. Universidad de la Sabana, 1998, p. 96.
 The same can be observed in other soldiers such as captains Miguel Álzate, Ignacio Echeverri, Manuel Herrera, Baltasar Salazar; the commanders Diego Gómez de Salazar, Rafael Isaza, Mateo Uribe, Lucas Zuleta and Mariano Zuleta; Colonels Manuel Montoya; General Braulio Henao; Major Ignacio Castañeda y Atehortúa; Colonels Carlos Gaviria and Antonio Londoño; officers Antonio Gómez Arbeláez; Lieutenant Liborio Arango, Second Lieutenant Joaquín Viana; the sergeants Bernardo Bolívar; Blas Uribe and another named Saldarriaga.
 One of his relatives, the priest Manuel Renteria, was decidedly royalist, precisely alluding to his loyalty and blood ties with the Lordship of Biscay. Carlos MANTILLA RUIZ. The Franciscans in the independence of Colombia. Academia Colombiana de Historia, 1995, p. 21.
 Ramón AZPURÚA. Biografías de hombres notables de Hispano-América. Imprenta Nacional, 1877, p. 334.
 Nepomuceno was born in Andalusia at the time when his father was living in that place, to later go to the Americas to fulfill his functions in the administration.
 Jesús TORRES ALMEYDA. El Almirante Padilla. Ediciones El Tiempo, 1983, p. 27.
 Giorgio ANTEI. Los héroes errantes: historia de Agustín Codazzi, 1793-1822. Planeta, 1993, p. 153.
 General Carlos de Soublette himself, although born in Venezuela, was of Basque-French origin, since his two grandparents, Martín Soublette and Miguel Aristiguieta, had been born in Bayonne and Pasaia, respectively..
 Common surname in Bayonne, who was hired together with the officers Serviez and Dufor for the instruction of the republican troops of Antioquia. Lamothe came as part of the music school and later as a war band instructor. Rodrigo GARCÍA Estrada. Los extranjeros y su participación en el primer período de la Independencia en la Nueva Granada, 1808-1816. Historia Caribe, no. 16, 2009, p. 69.
 Rodrigo GARCÍA ESTRADA. La condición de extranjero en el tránsito de la colonia a la república en la Nueva Granada (1750-1830). Tesis doctoral (Quito, Universidad Andina Simón Bolívar, 2012), p. 302.
 Giorgio ANTEI, Los héroes errantes… pp. 158-161.
 Among the most common problems were having a non-national army which varied in temperaments, languages, races, and nations, and caused problems in the republican army.
 Giorgio ANTEI. Los héroes errantes… Op. Cit., p. 379.
 John Alejandro RICAURTE. Vascos, independencia y restauración en la Nueva Granda. Similitudes culturales y bandos diferentes 1810-1830. XV Congreso Colombiano de Historia, Bogotá, Colombia: Asociación Colombiana de Historiadores, 2010.
Header image: Battle of Boyacá. Oil painting by Martín Tovar y Tovar, Paris, 1880. Showns at the Federal Palace in Caracas
Last Updated on Dec 29, 2021 by About Basque Country